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1 John 2

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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A. Staying on the Path by Walking in God’s Light 1:5-2:2

John began his explanation of what it means to live in the light of God’s fellowship by stressing the importance of continuing to walk in God’s light. Some antinomian Gnostics believed that knowledge was superior to virtue and morality, and John’s revelation here countered that error.

"If the readers are to have fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 John 1:3), they must understand what makes this possible. They must know who God is in himself and, consequently, who they are in themselves as creatures of God. So the author first describes the moral character of God in terms of light (1 John 1:5) and then goes on to deny three claims made by those who falsely boast of their knowledge and fellowship with God. The false positions are (1) moral behavior is a matter of indifference in one’s relationship to God (1 John 1:6); (2) immoral conduct does not issue in sin for one who knows God (1 John 1:8); and (3) the knowledge of God removes sin as even a possibility in the life of the believer (1 John 1:10). True ’tests’ or evidence of fellowship with God or walking in the light are (1) fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7), with subsequent cleansing by the blood of Christ; (2) confession of sin, (1 John 1:9) which brings both forgiveness and cleansing; and (3) trusting that if we sin we have Jesus Christ as an advocate and sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2)." [Note: Barker, p. 309.]

Verses 5-11


"Since the apostle’s expressed concern is that his readers might have fellowship with the apostolic circle and thus also with the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3), it is reasonable to specify what this fellowship is really like. So, as an introductory section to his epistle, John discusses the nature of true fellowship with God" [Note: Idem, The Epistles . . ., p. 57.]

Verse 1

John’s preceding comments on the inevitability of sinful behavior (1 John 2:6-10) led to his assuring his readers here that he did not want them to sin at all (cf. John 5:14). This was one of his purposes in writing this epistle, and it is the third of John’s four purpose statements (cf. 1 John 1:3-4; 1 John 5:13). Avoidance of sin is important even though it is not entirely possible.

"Thus far John’s epistle has announced its purpose (1 John 1:1-4), affirmed God’s character as light (1 John 1:5), and explored implications of God’s character for life in the Christian community (1 John 1:6-10), focusing on appropriate and inappropriate responses of the mouth and heart. In the present section {1 John 2:1-8] John turns directly to his readers with the first of numerous poignant appeals growing out of the broad yet surprisingly deep foundation he has laid in such short compass." [Note: Yarbrough, p. 70.]

John used the Greek word translated "children" here (teknia) as a family term of endearment. It means "little born ones" (1 John 2:12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 3:7; 1 John 3:18; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:21; John 13:33; cf. Galatians 4:19). "My" adds a further note of tenderness. These terms do not require us to conclude that the recipients were necessarily John’s personal converts, but they were very dear to him. Since this letter indicates that they were mature Christians, they may have been the leaders of various house-churches in Asia Minor.

"May not sin" does not mean "may never ever sin again." Sinning is inevitable for sinners, even forgiven sinners, but in every instance of temptation there is always the possibility that we will not fall (1 Corinthians 10:13). "If" introduces a condition assumed to take place for the sake of the argument (a third class condition in Greek).

As our Advocate (friend in court, mediator, or defense attorney) Jesus Christ pleads the cause of the sinning Christian before God the Father (cf. Hebrews 7:25). This ministry appears to be broader than simply aiding the sinner after he or she sins. It evidently includes pleading the sinner’s cause with the Father whenever that becomes necessary, as when Jesus prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail (Luke 22:31-32). Here, however, the emphasis is on Jesus Christ’s help after we have sinned. Since Jesus Christ is righteous, He is the perfect Advocate with God (cf. Acts 3:14; Acts 7:52).

The Greek word translated "Advocate" is parakleton that transliterated into English is "Paraclete." It means one who gets called to the side of another to help. Jesus used this word four times in the Upper Room Discourse to describe the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:7). [Note: See John R. Yarid Jr., "Reflections of the Upper Room Discourse in 1 John," Bibliotheca Sacra 160:637 (January-March 2003):65-76.] He called the Holy Spirit another Paraclete like Himself (John 14:16). This is the only other place in the New Testament where "Paraclete" appears.

"Whereas in the first part of this v[erse] John is anticipating too lenient an attitude toward sin, in the second half he is countering the possibility of too harsh a view." [Note: Smalley, pp. 35-36.]

Verse 2

Jesus Christ did not just make satisfaction for our sins, as a priest, though He did that. He is the satisfaction Himself, as a sacrifice (cf. Romans 3:25). The Septuagint translators used the same Greek word translated "propitiation" here (hilasmos, satisfaction, cf. 1 John 4:10) to translate the "mercy seat" on the ark of the covenant. Jesus’ body was the site where God placated His wrath against sin. 1 John 2:1-5; 1 John 2:2 all have Old Testament tabernacle connotations. Jesus’ death not only expiated (cancelled, dismissed, waived) sins, but it provided cleansing from their defilement and satisfied God’s wrath against sin with an acceptable offering. [Note: See Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, pp. 125-85; W. Hall Harris, "A Theology of John’s Writings," in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, p. 215; and Yarbrough, pp. 77-.]

This verse provides strong support for the fact that Jesus Christ died for all people (unlimited atonement). In His death the Lord Jesus provided salvation that is sufficient for all, though it is efficient only for those who trust in Him (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 22:17). In other words, Christ’s death made eternal life available for all, but not automatic for all. "Our" refers to the sins of all believers, and the "whole world" means all humankind, not just the elect (cf. John 1:12; John 3:16). Those who hold to "particular redemption" (i.e., that Jesus died only for the elect) limit the meaning of the "whole world" to the world of the elect.

"Johannine thought and terminology leave absolutely no room for any such concept as ’the world of the elect.’" [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 71. See also Yarbrough, p. 80.]

John reminded his readers in this section (1 John 1:8 to 1 John 2:2) that fellowship with God is possible only when we deal with sin in our lives. This is true of believers (1 John 1:5 to 1 John 2:1) as well as unbelievers (1 John 2:2). John articulated four fundamental principles that underlie fellowship with God to facilitate his readers’ experience of that fellowship. One must renounce sin (1 John 1:8 to 1 John 2:2), obey God (1 John 2:3-11), reject worldliness (1 John 2:12-17), and keep the faith (1 John 2:18-29) to live in the light of God’s presence.

Verse 3

John proposed a test whereby we can measure our experiential knowledge of God (Father and Son, 1 John 1:3), how well we really know Him. He said, look at your response to God’s revealed will. All believers know God to some extent (John 17:3). However some know Him more fully and intimately than others do (John 14:7-9; John 14:21-23). Occasionally a person who has been married for a long time and then gets a divorce will say of his or her spouse, "I never really knew her (or him)." Obviously they knew each other in one sense, but their knowledge of one another was not very complete or intimate. John’s point was that our personal experiential knowledge of God will affect the way we live, and the way we live, obediently or disobediently, will reveal how well we really know God.

"To know God was not merely to know Him as the philosopher knows Him; it was to know Him as a friend knows Him. In Hebrew the word to know is used of the relationship between husband and of [sic] wife, and especially of the sexual act, the most intimate of all relationships (cp. Genesis 4:1)." [Note: Barclay, p. 64.]

"This verse is often taken as a way of knowing whether or not we are really saved. But that view flies directly into the face of all Johannine theology, according to which we are saved by believing in Christ for eternal life (John 3:16; John 5:24; John 6:35 and passim; the references are numerous). . . .

"The idea that a Christian can believe in Christ, without knowing whether he or she has really believed, is complete nonsense. Of course we can know whether or not we believe. That we can know this is both common sense and completely biblical [cf. John 9:35-38; John 11:25-27]. . . .

"Thus the test suggested by 1 John 2:3 is not of the saving knowledge of God or of Christ, but of the experiential knowledge of God and His Son. To get this wrong, as many commentators have, is to lay the groundwork for a complete misreading of the epistle! Such a misreading is indeed common in the commentaries today and may be traced back primarily to Robert Law’s study on this epistle." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., pp. 75-77.]

"The sign of [experiential] knowledge of God is obedience to his commands and recognition of the way of life that he expects from his people." [Note: Marshall, p. 122.]

"In other words, to ’know’ God is not a matter of correct thought-processes, but of a genuine spiritual relationship. The knowledge of God, and fellowship with him, are complementary aspects of Christian experience." [Note: Smalley, p. 45.]

Verses 3-11

B. Reaching the Goal by Knowing the God of Light 2:3-11

"The author is explaining to the members of his church, in answer to developing heretical tendencies, the nature of true Christian belief and practice, and the way in which these interact. To do this he first chooses as his theme and for his exhortation the necessity of ’living in the light’ (1 John 1:5-7). The first (negative) condition required for a genuinely Christlike existence, the writer suggests, is the renunciation of sin (1 John 1:8 to 1 John 2:2). The second (positive) condition he now proceeds to discuss: it is obedience, especially to the law of love (1 John 2:3-11)." [Note: Smalley, p. 42.]

"Though the immediate effect of the light is to expose sin, its primary purpose is to reveal duty." [Note: Law, p. 209.]

From his comments on fellowship with God, John moved to a discussion of knowing God. He did so to enable his readers to appreciate the fundamental importance of knowing God as well as having intimate fellowship with God. These concepts are virtually synonymous. [Note: Barker, p. 315.] John said similar things about knowing God as he had said about having fellowship with God. Increased fellowship with God and increased knowledge of God are inseparable. Fellowship with God should always lead to more perfect knowledge of God; this should be its result.

"Fellowship" (Gr. koinonia) is the less common term occurring only four times in 1 John: 1 John 1:3 (twice), 6, 7. "Know" is more common. Ginosko (to know experientially) appears 24 times: 1 John 2:3-5; 1 John 2:13 (twice), 14, 18, 29; 1 John 3:1 (twice), 6, 16, 19, 20, 24; 1 John 4:2; 1 John 4:6 (twice), 7, 8, 13, 16; 1 John 5:2; 1 John 5:20. Oida (intellectual knowledge) appears 15 times: 1 John 2:11; 1 John 2:20-21 (twice), 29; 1 John 3:2; 1 John 3:5; 1 John 3:14-15; 1 John 5:13; 1 John 5:15 (twice), 18, 19, 20. The noun ginosis (experiential knowledge) is absent from this epistle.

"Again the false claims to knowledge by the opponents are stated first, this time introduced by the clause ’he who says’ (cf. 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:9). Each of these claims is again denied and the evidence or ’tests’ of the true knowledge of God is set forth: obeying his commands (1 John 2:5), walking in his likeness (1 John 2:6), and loving one’s brother (1 John 2:10)." [Note: Ibid.]

Verse 4

The profession in view, in the light of the context (1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10), is evidently another claim to having a close relationship with God, not a claim to being saved. [Note: See Zane C. Hodges, "Is God’s Truth in You? 1 John 2:4b," Grace Evangelical Society News 5:7 (July 1990):2-3.] If a person says he knows God intimately but is not obedient to the revealed will of God, he is a liar; he does not know God intimately, does not have a close relationship with God. Furthermore, God’s truth does not have a controlling influence over his life (cf. 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10).

"We may not like John’s verbal style [i.e., his hateful-sounding denunciation; cf. 1 John 4:20], but he may simply be stating a fact in God’s sight as a pastoral messenger to God’s people who need a wakeup call." [Note: Yarbrough, p. 85.]

Jesus used similar language in Matthew 23:13-33 and John 8:55, and John was one of two "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17).

". . . who is not keeping God’s commands does not know God experientially no matter what he claims verbally." [Note: Robert N. Wilkin, "Knowing God By Our Works?" Grace Evangelical Society News 3:10 (October-November 1988):3.]

1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:9 contain three more claims (cf. 1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10).

"I have come to know Him" (1 John 2:4; cf. John 17:3)He "keeps His word" (1 John 2:5)
"[I abide] in him" (1 John 2:6; cf. John 15:4)He "walk[s] . . . as He walked" (1 John 2:6)
"[I am] in the light" (1 John 2:9; cf. John 12:46)He "loves his brother" (1 John 2:10)

"The three assertions about knowing God, abiding in him, and being in the light (as he himself is in the light, 1 John 2:7), are parallel versions of a single claim to be in a right relationship with the Father through the Son." [Note: Smalley, p. 59.]

Verse 5

On the other hand the Christian who is careful to observe all of God’s Word (not just His commandments, 1 John 2:4) gives evidence that he has come to understand and appreciate God’s love for him. God’s love is perfected in him in the sense that the Christian has perceived it, has responded to it, and it is having its intended effect in his or her behavior. Our love for God is in view here rather than His love for us (cf. 1 John 2:15; 1 John 4:12; 1 John 5:3). [Note: Bruce, p. 51; Stott, p. 91; Dodd, p. 31.] Loving God is parallel to knowing God (1 John 2:3-4).

Bible students have often called John the apostle of love because of his frequent references to love. There are no fewer than 46 references to love in 1 John. The verb agapao appears 28 times in these verses: 1 John 2:10; 1 John 2:15 (twice); 1 John 3:10-11; 1 John 3:14 (twice), 18, 23; 1 John 4:7 (twice), 8, 10 (twice), 11 (twice), 12, 19 (twice), 20 (thrice), 21 (twice); 1 John 5:1 (twice), 2 (twice). The noun agape occurs 18 times: 1 John 2:5; 1 John 2:15; 1 John 3:1; 1 John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:7-10; 1 John 4:12; 1 John 4:16 (thrice), 17, 18 (thrice); 1 John 5:3. Likewise many have referred to Paul as the apostle of faith and to Peter as the apostle of hope because of their major emphases.

Verses 5-6

John’s use of the phrase "in Him" is different from Paul’s. Paul used this phrase to describe every believer’s relationship to Christ because of his or her justification. The unsaved are not "in Christ." However, John used "in Him" as Jesus did in the Upper Room Discourse to describe not all believers but the group of believers who abide in Christ (John 15:1-8). In John 15:8 Jesus said, "By this [abiding] is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit. So you will be my disciples." To abide in Christ means to obey Him (John 15:10).

"Thus the test of ’abiding’ in him is, as before, whether or not the claimant is living a life of obedience to God." [Note: Smalley, p. 52.]

Abiding in Christ is another synonym for having an intimate relationship with Him, as are having fellowship with God and knowing God experientially. John’s point was that a believer who is abiding in God will obey God just as Jesus Christ abode in God and gave evidence of that by obeying His Father. John used the word translated "abide" (Gr. meno) 24 times in 1 John (1 John 2:6; 1 John 2:10; 1 John 2:14; 1 John 2:17; 1 John 2:19; 1 John 2:24 [thrice], 27 [twice], 28; 1 John 3:6; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 3:14-15; 1 John 3:17; 1 John 3:24 [twice]; 1 John 4:12-13; 1 John 4:15-16 [thrice]). This indicates a major emphasis on the believer’s abiding relationship in this epistle. The obligation of every Christian is not just to obey God’s orders (1 John 2:4-5) but also to follow the example of His Son (1 John 2:6).

"We cannot claim to abide in Him unless we behave like Him." [Note: Stott, p. 92.]

"Johannine imitation means to follow as a disciple, a completely dedicated adherent and advocate." [Note: Yarbrough, p. 90.]

The next few verses explain what it means to behave as Christ did.

Verse 7

What commandments did John have in mind? He explained in this verse that he referred to no new responsibility with which his readers might be unfamiliar. He referred to the old commandment they had known about from the beginning of their experience as Christians (i.e., the command to love each other, 1 John 2:9-11; cf. John 13:34-35). The command to "love one another" appears at least a dozen times in the New Testament: John 13:34; John 15:9; John 15:12; John 15:17; Romans 13:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 3:23; 1 John 4:7; 1 John 4:11-12; and 2 John 1:5.

"The life of Christ was one of self-sacrificing love; therefore, the proof of imitating him is exhibited in love. Love is that which seeks the highest good in the one loved; and since the highest good is the will of God, love is doing the will of God." [Note: Ryrie, p. 1468.]

Verse 8

In another sense, however, this old commandment was new (fresh, Gr. kainos). John often wrote in terms of black or white contrasts in this epistle, but in 1 John 2:7-8 he spoke of both and. With the Incarnation, the light of God had entered the world more brightly than ever before (Hebrews 1:1-3). This was a new commandment in that it belongs to the new age that Jesus inaugurated (John 14:6).

"It is not a recent innovation, yet it is qualitatively new as experienced in Christ." [Note: Hiebert, "An Expositional . . .," 145:422.]

This light was dispelling the darkness of sin and would continue to do so until the final increase of that light will result in the complete annihilation of darkness. When Jesus Christ issued the great commandment anew He called it a new commandment even though God had given it previously (Leviticus 19:18). Now it was important in a new sense due to His coming as the Light of the World (John 13:34-35).

The new commandment "is true" in Christ and in Christians in this sense: Jesus Christ’s obedience to His Father fulfilled it first, and Christians’ obedience to God is fulfilling it now. As Christ’s disciples obey the command to love one another, this command has the character of truth. In other words, Christian love is truth manifested, both in Jesus who modeled it and in His disciples who follow His example.

Verse 9

This verse contains a concrete example of what John had been talking about. It is another claim to intimate fellowship with God that behavior shows is spurious (1 John 1:6; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 1:10; 1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:6). Hatred of other Christians is a sure sign that one is not walking with God in close fellowship.

"Hate is the absence of the deeds of love. . . . Love unexpressed is not love at all. Love has no neutral capabilities. When it is absent, hate is present." [Note: Barker, p. 317.]

Obviously genuine Christians have hated other Christians. It is naive to claim, as some expositors have, that the one hating must be an unbeliever. Moreover John regarded the hater and the one hated as brothers. In this letter the community of Christians is in view, so John meant a "brother" Christian rather than an unsaved neighbor. [Note: Ibid.; Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 86.]

"If the Bible taught that feelings of hatred were a sure sign of an unsaved condition, then virtually no one in the whole church would be saved! But the Bible does not teach this." [Note: Ibid., p. 87.]

However it is likely that John was speaking of hatred in a comparative sense, as Jesus sometimes did (Matthew 6:24; Matthew 24:10; Luke 14:26; Luke 16:13). Hyperbolically, to fail to show love is to demonstrate hate.

Verse 10

The cause of stumbling is hatred in the heart. Hatred causes the hater to stumble in his or her walk with God.

". . . whoever loves his brother remains in the light; and being in the light he can both see where he is going, and therefore avoid yielding constantly to temptation, and also (as a result) avoid causing others to fall." [Note: Smalley, p. 62.]

"Want of love is the most prolific source of offenses." [Note: Westcott, p. 56.]

Verse 11

The hater’s sin affects him in three ways. It places him in darkness outside God’s fellowship. It leads to aimless activity in which he is in great spiritual danger and in which there is the possibility of a fall (cf. John 9:41). It also results in mental confusion (cf. John 12:35). The Christian who hates his brother loses his sense of spiritual direction in life partially or totally. No course of life is more dangerous for a Christian than one that includes hatred toward another believer.

"By saying that someone walks in darkness, John means that his or her ethical and spiritual life is benighted." [Note: Yarbrough, p. 105.]

John argued that intimate fellowship with God is possible only when a person is obedient to God (1 John 2:3-11) as well as when he renounces sin in his life (1 John 1:5 to 1 John 2:2).

Verses 12-13

Who did John have in mind when he addressed his readers as little children, fathers, and young men? Perhaps he meant those who physically fell into these categories. If he did, what about his female readers and others who were not in these categories? Perhaps he was thinking of those in his audience who were in their spiritual development children, men, and youths. [Note: Bruce, p. 58.] If this is what he meant, why did he address them in this unnatural order? We could ask the same question about the first possibility also. Perhaps John addressed all his readers as little children (cf. John 21:5) and then spoke more specifically to the more mature or older (fathers) and then to the less mature or younger (young men). [Note: Smalley, pp. 69-70. Cf. Barker, p. 319; and Yarbrough, p. 114-21.] Yet what he said to the three groups is so parallel that it seems more likely that he was addressing three distinct groups. It seems best to conclude that John used these three stages of life to describe qualities typical of each age group that ought to characterize all believers. [Note: Marshall, p. 138; Dodd, pp. 37-39; Westcott, p. 59; James M. Boice, The Epistles of John, pp. 72-73; Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 94.] In other words, all the titles refer to the entire readership from three points of view.

Another problem is whether John meant that he was writing because the stated condition was true of each group or so that the condition might become true of them. The Greek particle hoti can have either sense: causal or declarative, and John could have intended both meanings. However the causal meaning seems a bit stronger. [Note: Smalley, p. 71; Marshall, pp. 136-37; Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 95.]

As children, John’s readers had known forgiveness by their heavenly Father (cf. 1 John 1:5 to 1 John 2:2). As fathers, they had experienced fellowship with God through Jesus Christ (cf. 1 John 2:3-11). "Fathers" connotes seasoned experience with God. As young men, they had known some victory over their spiritual adversary, Satan (cf. 1 John 2:15-23). John mentioned these three experiences in their proper experiential sequence in the Christian life. "Him who has been from the beginning" (1 John 2:13 a) is Jesus Christ (John 1:1).

Verses 12-14

A. Appreciating Spiritual Advances 2:12-14

John began this section by affirming the spiritual competence of his readers. He reminded them of their spiritual blessings to motivate them to cultivate intimate fellowship with God.

"Because his readers are Christians and have in part experienced the power of their faith he moves them to nobler efforts; his object is that their ’joy may be fulfilled’ (cf. 1. 4)." [Note: Westcott, p. 57.]

This pericope contains two series of three sentences. Each sentence begins, "I am writing to you . . . because . . ."

Verses 12-27


"In this section . . . John refers to the Revisionists directly. In so doing he makes clear the overall purpose of the epistle. The appearance of these ’antichrists’ on the scene is what has occasioned this letter. Appropriately, the apostle’s concern is with the threat they constitute to the readers’ continuing fellowship with God (cf. 1 John 1:3). Of course, no matter how much the readership might be misled, there was no danger to their eternal salvation; although, as we shall see, there was a threat to their assurance of salvation." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 93.]

Verses 13-14

John then proceeded to point out other characteristics of his readers again using the same three stages of life to illustrate their progress. Perhaps John repeated the cycle of descriptions to assure his readers that he was aware of their growth and strength in the faith.

In the first series of three (1 John 2:12-13 b) we have the minimal spiritual experience for each stage of spiritual life. In the second series of three (1 John 2:13-14) we have the more advanced spiritual experience for each stage. Little children (Gr. teknion, born ones) spiritually all know that God has forgiven their sins, but little children (Gr. paidion, taught ones) can advance to intimate knowledge of the Father. Both statements about fathers are identical because there can be no variation here. When one knows the eternal God the only thing one can do to advance is to continue to know Him better. John initially said the youths had defeated the evil one, but he said nothing of their condition after gaining the victory. They could be weak and vulnerable. However the second statement about them adds that they are strong and God’s Word continues to abide in them. This is a more robust spiritual condition.

John strengthened the sense of progress in these verses. He used present tense verbs in the first set of sentences (1 John 2:12-13 b) that emphasize ongoing action. Then he used aorist tense verbs in the second set (1 John 2:13-14) that point to the end product, spiritual maturity.

"In all the main Johannine writings-Gospel (John 16:33), First Epistle (1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:4-5) and Revelation (Revelation 2:7; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 2:17; Revelation 2:26; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 5:5; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 21:7) alike-the theme of overcoming is present, and in all it is through Christ, the supreme Overcomer, that His people overcome." [Note: Bruce, p. 59.]

Of the 28 occurrences of the verb nikan ("to conquer") in the New Testament, 24 are in John’s writings, and the noun nike ("victory") appears only in 1 John 5:4 in the New Testament. Thus the victory motif is peculiarly Johannine. [Note: See Smalley, p. 75; and E. Malatesta, Interiority and Covenant. A Study of einai en and menein en in the First Letter of Saint John, pp. 168-69.]

In this section John was not saying that his readers were all immature or all mature. He was acknowledging their spiritual development to encourage them to press on to know the Lord better and to pursue more intimate fellowship with Him.

As noted before, a popular interpretation of 1 John that many commentators have advocated is that John wrote this epistle to enable his readers to determine whether they were true believers. The questions John raised throughout the epistle, they say, were "tests of [the presence of spiritual] life." [Note: See, for example, Raymond Brown, The Epistles of John; John Calvin, The First Epistle of John; D. Edmond Hiebert, The Non-Pauline Epistles and Revelation; idem, "An Expositional Study of 1 John," Bibliotheca Sacra (April 1988-July 1990); Law; John F. MacArthur Jr., The Gospel according to Jesus; Marshall; Stott; Westcott; Dodd; Boice; Bruce; Barker; and Wiersbe.] However in the verses just considered (1 John 2:12-14) John did not say he was writing to test his readers’ salvation. He said he was writing to them because they were genuine believers. John challenged his readers with tests of fellowship rather than with tests of regeneration.

"It would be hard to devise an approach to John’s first epistle more hopelessly misguided or more completely self-defeating [than the ’tests of life’ approach]. If the premise on which this approach is based were true, it would be quite impossible for either the original audience of 1 John or any of its subsequent readers to possess the assurance of salvation. Since the writer repeatedly enjoins the ’abiding’ life marked by obedience to Christ’s commands, one cannot really be certain until the end of his earthly experience whether he has abided or persevered in the requisite obedience. Meanwhile, one must entertain the possibility that he is a spurious Christian!

"Few errors of contemporary exposition are more blatant than this one. Not only does John not say that he is writing to ’test’ whether his readers are saved or not, he says the reverse [in 1 John 1:3-4]!" [Note: Zane C. Hodges, The Gospel Under Siege, pp. 47-48. Other commentators who hold that 1 John offers tests of fellowship rather than tests of life are J. Dwight Pentecost, The Joy of Fellowship; Mitchell, Fellowship; idem, An Everlasting Love; Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, pp. 156-75; Guy H. King, The Fellowship; Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Theology of the New Testament; idem, "The First . . .," p. 1466; J. W. Roberts, The Letters of John; and Karl Braune, The Epistles General of John, in Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, 12:15.]

Verse 15

The Greek negative prohibition me with the present active imperative verb means either stop doing something or do not have the habit of doing it. The "world" (kosmos) represents the system of values, priorities, and beliefs that unbelievers hold that excludes God.

"The world is that organized system which acts as a rival to God." [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1469.]

It is a moral and spiritual system designed to draw people away from God. It is a seductive system that appeals to all people, believers as well as unbelievers, and calls for our affection, participation, and loyalty (cf. John 3:16-19; James 4:4). Satan controls this system, and believers should shun it (cf. 1 John 5:19; John 12:31; John 14:30). Here kosmos does not refer primarily to the created order, though that order is also passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31; 2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 21:1-4). [Note: Smalley., p. 87.]

"If" assumes that some Christians will love the world (third class condition in Greek), which is unfortunately often true to reality. One writer responded to the question of many, "What’s so bad about the world?" [Note: Yarbrough, pp. 128-37.] "The love of the Father" is probably the believers’ love for the Father (objective genitive), not His love for us (subjective genitive). [Note: Robertson, 6:214.] "In him" again reflects a controlling influence (cf. 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:4).

Verses 15-17

1. Resisting the World 2:15-17

John warned his readers of worldly dangers that face the Christian as he or she seeks to get to know God better. He did so to enable them to prepare for and overcome these obstacles with God’s help.

"As often in 1 John, a section of parenesis [reminders of what the readers already knew or were doing or of what they knew they should avoid] follows a series of dogmatic statements." [Note: Smalley, p. 89.]

The New Testament uses the term "world" (Gr. kosmos) in at least three ways. Sometimes "the world" refers to planet earth, the physical world (e.g., Acts 17:24). Sometimes it refers to humankind, the human world (e.g., John 3:16), and sometimes it refers to human culture as influenced by Satan, the world system (here).

John again presented three pairs, as he did in 1 John 2:12-14.

1 John 2:15The love of the worldThe love of the Father
1 John 2:16comes from the worldcomes from the Father
1 John 2:17The world passes awayThe one who obeys God remains forever

Verses 15-27

B. Recognizing Spiritual Adversaries 2:15-27

Having encouraged the readers with affirmations that their spiritual condition was very good (1 John 2:12-14), John turned next to the enemies they must face: the world (1 John 2:15-17) and the antichrists (1 John 2:18-27).

Verse 16

John summarized the appeal of the world system as three-fold. Here is a picture of the infernal trinity, the three faces of the world, three sources of worldly temptation (cf. Genesis 3; Matthew 4). Lusts are cravings or desires, and in the context they are evil because they are not in harmony with God’s will.

The lust of the flesh is the desire to do something apart from the will of God. It includes every sinful activity that appeals to the sinful hearts of people. The lust of the eyes is the desire to have something apart from the will of God. Whatever is appealing to our senses but is not properly ours to desire or obtain falls under this category. The pride of life is the desire to be something apart from the will of God. It refers to boastful pretension in earthly matters. The first desire appeals mainly to the body, the second appeals to the soul (or intellect), and the third to the spirit. Perhaps the most common manifestation of the lust of the flesh in modern western civilization is illicit sex (hedonism, idolizing pleasure). Perhaps the most common manifestation of the lust of the eyes is excessive buying (materialism, idolizing possessions). Perhaps the most common manifestation of the pride of life is trying to control (egoism, idolizing power).

"The ’wants’ which man feels can be divided into two great classes. Some things he desires to appropriate personally: some things he desires to enjoy without appropriation. The desire of the flesh embraces the one class (e.g. gratification of appetites); the desire of the eyes the other (e.g. pursuit of art as an end)." [Note: Westcott, p. 62.]

"’Pride of life’ will be reflected in whatever status symbol is important to me or seems to define my identity. When I define myself to others in terms of my honorary [or earned] degrees, the reputation of the church I serve, my annual income, the size of my library, my expensive car or house, and if in doing this I misrepresent the truth and in my boasting show myself to be only a pompous fool who has deceived no one, then I have succumbed to what John calls the pride of life." [Note: Barker, p. 322.]

"Thus the ’pride of life’ is ostentatious pride in the possession of worldly goods." [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1470.]

These three basic desires come from the world system, not from the Father, and the believer should separate from them. The Father desires our welfare, but the world will destroy us (1 John 2:17).

"Morality is not the grounds for assurance, but the fruit of it." [Note: Hodges, The Gospel . . ., p. 49. Cf. Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 3:12-13.]

The Christian’s Three-Fold Enemy
The World
1 John 2:15-17Lust of the Flesh
Lust of the Eyes
Pride of Life
; 1 Timothy 6:11
2 Timothy 2:22
The Flesh
; Romans 7:18-24
Romans 6:12-13; Romans 8:13
The Devil
; 1 Peter 5:8
1 Peter 5:9

Verse 17

Another reason we should not pursue the desires of the world is that this system, along with its desires, is in the process of passing out of existence. Really we are living in what John called the "last hour" of the world’s existence (1 John 2:18). The world is only temporary and ephemeral (cf. 1 Pet.).

Notwithstanding, those who do God’s will abide (remain, live) forever. Since all Christians will live forever (John 10:28), John was not saying we attain eternal life by our obedience. However, we abide (i.e., enjoy intimate relationship with God, experience our eternal life abundantly) now as well as after death when we obey God.

"Just as Abraham through obedience to God obtained the title ’the friend of God’ (cf. James 2:21-23), by which he is known today in three world religions and will be known forever, so too the obedient Christian can attain this same identity by obedience (John 15:14-15). Likewise, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Christian’s identity in eternity will be determined by obedience to God in time. And since all lives of obedience are unique in their particulars, each eternal ’identity’ will be as unique as the snowflakes that fall from heaven." [Note: Idem, The Epistles . . ., p. 105.]

Resisting the appeal of the world is difficult for every believer. John urged his readers in view of its attractiveness to understand the avenues of its temptation and to remember four things. Love for the world indicates lack of love for God (1 John 2:15). It results in consequences that are not what our loving heavenly Father desires for our welfare (1 John 2:17). It lasts only a short time (1 John 2:17), and it precludes intimate fellowship with God (1 John 2:15).

Verse 18

John probably used a different Greek word translated "children" (paidia, also in 1 John 2:12) because it implies a child who learns. His readers needed to learn what he now revealed.

In the drama of human history all of John’s readers, including ourselves, play our part in the last act. Throughout the New Testament the writers regarded the present inter-advent age, after the Incarnation and before the Lord’s return, as the last hour or the last days. This is the final period before the Lord Himself breaks into history again. Then the first stage of the new age will be judgment (the Tribulation) and the second stage blessing. In the second stage Jesus Christ will rule directly over human beings, first in the Millennium and then in the new heavens and the new earth.

The revelation concerning the appearance of the world ruler who will exalt himself against God was familiar to John’s audience (Daniel 11:36-45; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-5; et al.). However even as John wrote, many little antichrists, people who exalt themselves against God, had arisen. John saw this as evidence that the appearance of the Antichrist was not far away. Antichrists are those who oppose Jesus Christ and His teachings, not just people who profess to be the Messiah. [Note: Stott, pp. 104-5; Plummer, p. 107; Barclay, p. 73.]

"Anti ["against"] can mean substitution or opposition, but both ideas are identical in the word antichristos (in N.T. only here, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 1:7)." [Note: Robertson, 6:215.]

Verses 18-19

Signs of the end 2:18-19

Verses 18-27

2. Resisting the Antichrists 2:18-27

John needed to alert his readers to special deceptions they would encounter to enable them to identify and defend themselves against these temptations. Previously John had been less direct in dealing with false teachers who perverted the truth about intimacy with God. Now he became more direct and labeled them antichrists.

John again used a three-fold structure at the beginning of this section of the text. He described three signs or marks: of the end (1 John 2:18-19), of the believer (1 John 2:20-23), and of living in the light (1 John 2:24-25). 1 John 2:26-27 recapitulate and develop the revelation in 1 John 2:18-25.

Verse 19

Those who were opposing Christ had gone out from "us." "Us" may mean the apostolic eyewitnesses, as often elsewhere in this epistle (cf. 1 John 1:1-5; 1 John 4:6). This would mean that these false teachers had gone out from among the apostles, not that they were apostles themselves, claiming that their message was what the apostles endorsed (cf. Acts 15:1; 2 Corinthians 11:5). "Us" elsewhere in this epistle refers to the believing community (cf. 1 John 1:6 to 1 John 2:2), and I think it probably means that here. Some false teachers evidently had been members of local house-churches and then left them because of doctrinal differences. The physical separation of these men from the apostles and the faithful eventually illustrated their doctrinal separation from them.

"From other references to ’antichrists’ in this letter it is evident that when the writer uses this term he means the heterodox ex-members of his own community: those who, in one way or another, were denying the true identity of Jesus, and the fact of God’s saving activity mediated to the world through him." [Note: Smalley, p. 101.]

". . . it is possible, in this instance, that those who later allowed their heretical thought and actions to run away with them (when it could obviously be said, ouk esan ex emon, ’they were not of us’) were in the first place believers with a genuine, if uninformed, faith in Jesus." [Note: Ibid., p. 103. Cf. Hodges, The Epistles . . ., pp. 109-10.]

"If you will investigate the history of the false cults and antichristian religious systems in today’s world, you will find that in most cases their founders started out in a local church! They were ’with us’ but not ’of us,’ so they went out ’from us’ and started their own groups." [Note: Wiersbe, p. 499.]

". . . a person who makes a genuine confession can be expected to persevere in his faith, although elsewhere John warns his readers against the danger of failure to persevere [cf. 1 John 2:24; 2 John 1:8]." [Note: Marshall, p. 152.]

Perseverance in faith and good works is normal for a Christian, but it is not inevitable. Hence we have all the warnings and exhortations to continue in faith and good works in the New Testament.

Whereas divisions within Christendom create obvious problems, God causes some good to come out of them by using these divisions to clarify doctrinal differences and deviations from the truth.

Verses 20-21

In contrast to the heterodox secessionists (1 John 2:19), the faithful believers within the community were "keeping the faith." The "anointing" referred to is evidently the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus gives to each believer at conversion (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Luke 4:18; John 6:69; John 14:17; John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:13; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). John said it abode in his readers to teach them and that it was truthful (1 John 2:27).

"Anointing designates something for sacred use." [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1470.]

John referred to the Holy Spirit as the anointing, ascribing a teaching role, which is a personal function, to Him. This seems preferable to the idea that the Word of God is the anointing. [Note: This is a view proposed by Dodd, p. 63, but refuted by Hodges, "1 John," p. 892, and Simon Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle of James and the Epistles of John, p. 279, footnote 55. Marshall, p. 155, proposed a similar view, namely, that the Word applied by the Spirit constitutes the anointing, which Smalley, pp. 106-7, followed. Yarbrough, p. 149, viewed the anointing as the effect of the apostolic message the readers had received (i.e., the truth).] John previously spoke of Jesus Christ as the life (1 John 1:2). The presence of the Holy Spirit in every believer enables him or her to perceive the truth of the gospel and to distinguish it from error (John 14:26; John 16:13). Of course, some Christians have more perception than others due to God-given ability, Satanic blindness, the influence of human teachers, sin in the life, etc.

Verses 20-23

Signs of the believer 2:20-23

Verses 22-23

The antichrists lie because they deny that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son and our Savior (cf. John 11:25-27). This would have been the position of Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah and other false teachers to whom John alluded elsewhere. Among these were the Gnostics who believed that anything material was sinful and therefore Jesus could not have been God’s Son. [Note: See International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, 1957 ed., s.v. "Gnosticism," by John Rutherford; or for a summary of Gnostic teaching, see Dillow, pp. 158-61; and Barclay, pp. 8-15.] They considered Jesus and Christ as two distinct entities. [Note: Ryrie, "The First . . .," p. 1471.] Docetists taught that Jesus was not truly a man and therefore not our Savior. Followers of Cerinthus believed that Jesus was not fully God but that God only came upon Him at His baptism and departed from Him before His crucifixion. [Note: See Barker, p. 295; and Brown, p. 112.] These false teachers all claimed to have the truth from God. However, John pointed out that since the Son and the Father are one, a person cannot deny the Son without denying the Father as well (cf. Matthew 10:32-33; Mark 8:38; John 12:44-45; John 14:10-11).

". . . anyone who claims to know God, but disobeys his orders, is ’a’ liar (. . . 1 John 2:4); but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ must be regarded as the-archetypal-liar . . ." [Note: Smalley, pp. 110-11. Cf. Stott, p. 111.]

". . . we deny God by denying him his proper relationship with us." [Note: Barker, p. 326.]

Some readers have understood the first part of 1 John 2:23 to mean that it is impossible for a true Christian, one who "has the Father," ever to deny the Son. This interpretation seems inconsistent with other Scripture (2 Timothy 2:12) as well as human experience. Some genuine Christians have denied Christ, to avoid martyrdom, for example. In the context John wrote about an abiding relationship with God, not just a saving relationship. So another explanation is that John meant that whoever denies the Son does not have the Father abiding in him. In this view, one who denies the Son does not have an abiding relationship with the Father. This describes all unbelievers and those believers who are not abiding in God. A third explanation is that John was describing what is typical: typically those having the Father do not deny the Son, though there may be a few exceptions. However the broad "whoever" in this verse seems to imply that what John wrote is true of all. I prefer view two.

The second part of the verse is the positive corollary to the first part. Confessing the Son is the opposite of denying Him. Confessing the Son results in the Father abiding in the confessor. Confessing the Son involves a public profession of faith in Him, not just exercising saving faith in Him (cf. Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 4:13). Belief in the heart results in imputed righteousness, and confessing with the mouth results in salvation (lit. deliverance, namely, from the consequences of being a secret, non-confessing, believer). A non-abiding Christian might not confess Christ even though he or she believes in Him. Both denying Christ and confessing Christ deal with giving personal testimony to one’s faith in Him; they do not determine salvation. Thus denying Christ cannot result in the loss of eternal salvation nor can confessing Him obtain it. If John meant that no genuine Christian can deny the Son, the corollary is that every genuine Christian must confess the Son. That would make public confession of Christ a condition for salvation in addition to trusting in Him, but this lacks biblical support.

To summarize, John warned his readers of the danger to their intimate fellowship with God that the teaching of those who denied that Jesus is the Christ posed. If they rejected the Son, they could not expect an intimate relationship with the Father.

"The principle source of confusion in much contemporary study of 1 John is to be found in the failure to recognize the real danger against which the writer is warning. The eternal salvation of the readership is not imperilled [sic]. It is not even in doubt as far as the author is concerned. But seduction by the world and its antichristian representatives is a genuine threat which must be faced." [Note: Hodges, The Gospel . . ., p. 55.]

Verse 24

Christians should not reject the truth that they believed that resulted in their salvation (cf. the warning passages in Hebrews). Such faithfulness enables us to continue to abide in fellowship with God. John used "abide" in the same sense in which Jesus did in the Upper Room Discourse. Abiding refers to an intimate relationship with God determined by the extent to which we walk in the light of God’s will that we have. Abiding, fellowship, and knowing God refer to the same thing, and we experience them by degrees rather than either completely or not at all (John 15:1-8). John’s insistence that his readers really did know God and His truth would have strengthened them to resist the false teachers (1 John 2:12-14; 1 John 2:21).

Verses 24-25

Signs of living in the light 2:24-25

John now called on his readers to abide in the true doctrine of Jesus Christ to enable them to abide in fellowship with God.

Verse 25

Our eternal life is not in question when we believe that Jesus is the Savior, as some of the antichrists then and now suggest that it is. It is secure because it rests on God’s promise, "He who believes on the Son has life" (John 3:36; et al.). This is the only time John used the Greek word epaggelia, "promise," in all his writings.

Verse 26

The "these things" in view probably refer to what John had just written (1 John 2:18-25).

"The author concludes his attack on the false teachers with a warning and a word of encouragement for his followers." [Note: Barker, p. 327.]

Verses 26-27

The importance of keeping the faith 2:26-27

Verse 27

The "anointing" is the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 John 2:20). The readers had the Holy Spirit within them whose ministry it is to guide believers into all the truth and to teach us what God has revealed (John 14:26; John 16:13). Consequently they were not dependent on other human teachers, especially the false teachers.

From this verse some Christians have concluded that we should not listen to any human teacher. That is not what John said. He wanted his readers to remember that the Holy Spirit was the teacher, the ultimate source of illumination. He did not rule out secondary teachers through whom the Holy Spirit works in teaching. If that had been his view he would not have written this epistle in which he taught his readers. His point was that we should not look to other human beings as the ultimate source of our learning, an attitude the false teachers were encouraging. Of course the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to teach us (John 16:14-15). John was not saying we can discard our Bibles. Since immature believers need human teachers (Hebrews 5:12), though they are not completely dependent on them, John’s readers appear to have been mature in the faith. God has given human teachers as a gift to His church (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:28; cf. Romans 12:7).

"John obviously uses slight irony here. . . . John means that what he is urging on them is fairly self-evident . . ." [Note: Yarbrough, pp. 166-67.]

The readers’ anointing was real. The false teachers appear to have claimed that God had inspired them, but He had not. John was warning his readers about false teachers who claimed revelation beyond what Jesus Christ and the apostles had taught. We need simply to abide in God and to respond positively to the Holy Spirit’s ministry to us (cf. John 15:4-7).

John’s original readers were doing well in their walk with God. John began this section of his epistle (1 John 2:12-27) by affirming their healthful spiritual condition (1 John 2:12-14). He then warned them of their spiritual adversaries (1 John 2:15-27): the allurements of the world (1 John 2:15-17) and the enticements of false teachers (1 John 2:18-27).

There is a parallel between what John urged his readers to do in this section of his epistle and what Moses commanded the Israelites to do. In both cases the holiness of God demanded that those who came into the closest and most intimate contact with God, in the Tabernacle and in the church, be holy. Moses advocated renouncing sin, obeying God, rejecting worldliness, and keeping the faith in the "Covenant Code" (Exodus 20-23; Exodus 25-31), the "Priestly Code" (Exodus 35 -Leviticus 16), and the "Holiness Code" (Leviticus 17:10 to Leviticus 25:55). John similarly urged his readers to renounce sin (1 John 1:8 to 1 John 2:2), to obey God (1 John 2:3-11), to reject worldliness (1 John 2:12-17), and to keep the faith (1 John 2:18-27). In both cases the prophet’s concern was that those believers under their care would be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Holiness is imperative for God’s people to "know," "see," and "have fellowship with" a holy God (cf. Hebrews 12:10-14).


"The warning against the antichrists or, as we have called them, the Revisionists, is now finished. The apostle’s burden has been to affirm the high spiritual caliber of his readership and to urge them to continue to live the ’abiding’ life, which they are currently doing. In the face of the false teaching of the Revisionists, they are to cling to the truth they have heard from the beginning and to allow that truth to shape them inwardly. To go the direction of the antichrists is to forfeit all the rich experience which abiding in the Son and in the Father makes possible.

"But what exactly is the abiding experience like: Although John has already pointed out that it involves a Christlike walk (1 John 2:6), he has said little about its exact character. Yet it is already clear that it involves obedience to the command to love one another (cf. 1 John 2:7-11). Beginning at this point in the epistle, love becomes a controlling and overriding theme." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 123.]

The section before us (1 John 2:28 to 1 John 4:19) constitutes the body of the letter. That it is a unit is clear from the structural inclusio. Note the statements in 1 John 2:28 "that . . . we may have confidence . . . at His coming" and in 1 John 4:17 "that we may have confidence in the day of judgment" that bracket the unit.

Verse 28

A. Abiding to Face Christ Confidently 2:28

John introduced the new idea of the believer’s meeting with Jesus Christ at death or the Rapture to motivate his readers to continue to cultivate intimate fellowship with God. The prospect of this meeting remained the basis for John’s instruction through 1 John 4:19. This is the theme verse because it sets the agenda for what follows in this major portion of the epistle. 1 John 2:28 is a janus that looks in two directions: backward to summarize the preceding section, and forward to introduce the following section. Janus was the Roman god of beginnings and endings who supposedly guarded portals. He had two faces, one on the front and the other on the back of his head. The month of January gets its name from him. It is the month in which we look backward on the past year and forward to the new year.

"Abide" (Gr. meno) appeared no less than seven times in 1 John 2:12-27. The exhortation to abide here in 1 John 2:28 is the outworking of John’s concern to abide in 1 John 2:12-27. "If" might better be translated "whenever." The fact of the Lord’s appearing is certain even though its time is indefinite. [Note: See Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour, ch. 6: "The Imminency of the Coming of Christ for the Church," pp. 108-37.] John meant that Christ’s return for His own might be while his readers were still alive. [Note: Westcott, p. 81. See also A. E. Brooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Johannine Epistles, p. 65; Charles H. Spurgeon, 12 Sermons on the Second Coming of Christ, p. 134; George G. Findlay, Fellowship in the Life Eternal, pp. 232-33; and Robert S. Candlish, The First Epistle of John, p. 213.] Other passages that teach the imminency of Christ’s return include 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Philippians 3:20; Philippians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12; Titus 2:13; James 5:7-9; and Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:17; Revelation 22:20. "Confidence" (Gr. parresia) is freedom or boldness of speech that comes as a result of a clear conscience. John’s idea was that if we walk in fellowship with God now we will not feel embarrassed to meet Him whenever we see Him (cf. Mark 8:38). The prospect of seeing Jesus Christ one day soon should motivate us to abide in Him now (cf. James 5:8).

"Even though eternal salvation is an entirely free gift which can never be lost, the New Testament makes plain that the believer must give an account of his or her Christian life in the presence of Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12). As is shown by the texts just cited, as well as by 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, this judgment is not merely a review of our good deeds, but a comprehensive review that embraces both ’good and bad’ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Therefore, shame is decidedly possible at the Judgment Seat. This is all the more true since Christians at that time will have their eternal bodies. Thus sin will no longer inhibit appropriate regret and embarrassment about those things in one’s earthly life that did not please the Lord." [Note: Hodges, The Epistles . . ., p. 125.]

B. Learning to See God’s Children 2:29-3:10a

John began a new line of thought to develop the theme of preparing to meet the Lord unashamed, indicated in the Greek text by the absence of a connective (asyndeton). The theme of this section is "manifestation," which begins it, in 1 John 2:28, and ends it, in 1 John 3:10 a (an inclusio).

Verse 29

Because God is righteous, every abiding child of God will demonstrate righteous behavior. Righteous action is a mark of the Father that God reproduces in every abiding Christian just as surely as every child does some things like the physical parent he or she seeks to imitate. We intellectually know that God is righteous from Scripture. However we experientially come to know that certain people are abiding Christians by the righteous works they do. The facts that some unrighteous people behave righteously and some righteous people behave wickedly do not vitiate this point.

"We must not make this verse say more than it does. John certainly does not say, ’Whoever does not do righteousness is not born of Him.’ That would be an inference in no way justified by John’s statement. He is not talking here about how we can decide if a person is saved. If we know that a person believes (cf. 1 John 5:1 . . .), we can know he is saved. But here, John is clearly concerned with the deduction which we can make if we know that God is righteous. If that is known, it follows that one who to any extent reproduces His righteous nature is actually manifesting that nature and can rightly be perceived as born of Him." [Note: Ibid., p. 127.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 John 2". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/1-john-2.html. 2012.
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